I was expecting something like South India — a place I’ve never visited but imagine to be hot, crowded, and poor from all that I’ve heard and seen.
Sri Lanka was nothing like that. Instead it was green and lush, rapidly developing (no obvious signs of extreme poverty), and full of friendly people working to rebuild a country stunted by and still recovering from 26 years of civil war that only just ended in 2009.
I was lucky enough to visit the island in September at the invitation of the US State Department / US Embassy in Colombo to help lead a digital activism training for students across South Asia (see WICPER Training for Trusteeship). My colleague Susannah Vila posted some of her thoughts on the experience here on HuffPo.
We didn’t have time to see much while there, but we did cover many hours of rough roads from rainforest-like mountain regions (Kandy, Kigale) to capitol city (Colombo) to — briefly en route to airport — tropical beach. I have many more miles of Sri Lankan beach to explore in my career. The elephant photos below are from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which was more like a park/refuge but seems to have started as an orphanage.